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Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix 2024

Verstappen takes another blow as Alonso shines in the Montreal gloom

Max Verstappen was left cursing another issue with his Red Bull to end a miserable Friday in Canada.

Verstappen Canada
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen suffered another blow to what has become a troubling period of his F1 title defence during a second practice session for the Canadian Grand Prix that was again blighted by the weather.

Verstappen had just embarked on a soft-tyre run in his Red Bull when he was forced to return to the garage with wisps of smoke emerging from the back of the RB20. The issue, related to the energy recovery system, proved terminal.

The three-time champion managed just four laps during the session - the lowest total of any of the 20 drivers - and with only one timed, at 1:19.311s, leaving him 18th on the timesheet, with only Alpine's Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris in his McLaren behind him.

It is proving a worrying time for Verstappen and Red Bull since losing to McLaren's Lando Norris in Miami. The British team, along with Ferrari, have closed the gap to the leading outfit and are applying heavy pressure not felt since the introduction of the current aerodynamic regulations in 2022.

By the end of FP2, Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso topped the timesheet with a lap of 1:15.810, almost half a second clear of George Russell in his Mercedes, followed by the second Aston of Lance Stroll, a further two-tenths of a second back.

Result Free practice 2 - Canadian

# Driver Team Time Tyre
Results are being loaded...

Leclerc to see stewards after bizarre call

At least there was some running which early on seemed as if it would not be the case. Following a heavily disrupted FP1, sparked by a hailstorm 75 minutes before the start followed by heavy rain that led to a 21-minute delay and included a red flag after Zhou Guanyu hit a wall, the hope had been for a clean second session.

But just as a queue of cars lined up in the pitlane to return to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for FP2, light rain started to fall. At the head of the pack were the Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Sergio Perez, but on soft tyres they immediately returned to the pits, as did four others who had set off on the red-striped Pirellis.

Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Russell carried on, with the former setting the opening lap time of 1:34.810s before also heading back to the pits. Russell had already returned after two exploratory laps.

Whilst Carlos Sainz had declared it "too wet for the medium" after bizarrely opting for that compound, team-mate Charles Leclerc suffered a worse fate.

The winner last time out in Monaco took to the circuit on inters before race control had declared the track wet. The Monégasque and his team face a stewards' investigation for the unusual infringement which is likely to lead to a fine.

Gasly was one of those who opted to take to the track on softs, and in being able to build heat into the tyres, quickly took chunks out of his times, going from a 1:29.007, to a 1:24.389 on the following lap, and then a 1:20.789 the lap after.

Norris and Piastri also under investigation

With Gasly proving what could be achieved despite the light rain, others followed his lead, particularly bearing in mind the conditions will likely prevail over the weekend when softs may be required in intermittent conditions.

There were still the odd mistakes being made here and there, but predominantly, over time, all the drivers eventually chipped away at their laps. Halfway through the session, Alonso led the way with his 1:15.810.

At that stage, though, the rain again started to fall, forcing all the drivers into the pits.

Eventually, all opted for some wet-weather running over the final 20 minutes, merely to get a feel for a track in such conditions that was resurfaced over the winter.

At the conclusion, behind the leading trio, Leclerc was fourth quickest, and on the mediums, followed by Daniel Ricciardo in his RB, the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, with Hamilton seventh, just over a second back.

Besides Leclerc under investigation, Norris is also being looked at for failing to follow the race director's instructions.

Norris slid off track approaching the final chicane, but in returning, went the wrong side of the bollard. In fairness to the Briton, it was a difficult ask to achieve given his positioning.

Bizarrely, late on, team-mate Oscar Piastri also failed to follow the 'escape road instructions' and is also due to be investigated.

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